Guest Post: Shauna Niequist on Bittersweet

Caryn: When I first met Shauna Niequist last year, we talked about book projects. I was, I’m sure, noticeably taken aback to find out about the project she was working on as we chatted. Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way, sounded a lot like the project I had just signed a contract for: my own Grumble Hallelujah: No real subhead yet, but something about loving your life even when it’s not the way it was supposed to be…..

So imagine my relief, when I got my hands on an advanced copy of Bittersweet and saw that while our themes were similar, the books are not. You should feel happy to go out and buy a zillion copies of Shauna’s book and then still buy a zillion of mine when it’s out next year. Phew.

But since I have gone through my own “Bittersweet” season over the past several years, I’m so excited about what Shauna’s writing about. Particularly, I loved what she has to say about feeling “stuck,” about dealing with hurt in our lives, and the role prayer has in all of it, which I think are Mommy Revolutionary-ish themes, right?

Read on, enjoy this excerpt from Bittersweet, and then share your thoughts:

Shauna: When I look back at this most recent season, what I see are a thousand things I wish I would have done differently. I wish I would have been more patient. I wish I would have depended more heavily on the words of Scripture and the biblical pattern of life after death. I wish I wouldn’t have eaten so much pizza, especially late at night.

What kept me stuck, when I was stuck, were my own demands and expectations, my own collection of fear and anxiety. And what got me through, when I got through, were the times I spent with people I loved and the times I spent in prayer. It’s pretty much that clear, looking back on it all now.

I’m more certain than ever that prayer is at the heart of transformation. And also that God’s will has a lot more to do with inviting us to become more than we previously have been than about getting us to one very specific destination. God’s will, should we choose to engage in it, will generally feel like surgery, rooting out all the darkness and fear we’ve come to live with.

My friend Steve says that God doesn’t speak to everyone the same way, but that he generally speaks the same way over and over again to each person. I think that’s absolutely true. God generally speaks to me through grand gestures. Actually I think he speaks to me first in whispers, and that I don’t listen until he’s shouting. I regret this, and I think the last few years could have been a little easier had I been a better listener.

But I’m learning. It’s human to struggle. It’s human to nurse a broken heart, to wonder if the pain will ever let up, to howl through your tears every once in a while. And the best, most redeeming, exciting thing I can imagine, from the smashed-up, broken place I’ve been, is that something beautiful could blossom out of the wreckage. That’s the goal.

4 responses to this post.

  1. I agree.


  2. thank you – I can’t wait to get my hands on this book!


  3. I love Shauna’s writing and have Bittersweet waiting in line on my nightstand to be read. “Prayer is at the heart of transformation” is so true and for me one of the most difficult spiritual disciplines to practice. I know in theory that “conversing” with God will deepen my relationship with Him, bringing me closer to His heart (as demonstrated through human relationships) and yet it is so difficult to practice. Thank you for the encouragement to do so.


  4. great excerpt. I feel like faith really becomes very simple and well, child-like, when you get down to it. But it’s the getting down to it that takes some wrestling…at least in my life. 🙂


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